Photo © Nokian Tyres, plc
I had, as I have noted, a somewhat bad experience with Nokian's WRG3. I tried pretty hard, and I believe that I succeeded in not letting that experience color my entire review, however I did feel that I had to take that and other aspects of the drive into account in writing a review that was not all that I or Nokian had perhaps hoped for. Certainly as a longtime fan of the WRG2, I was not happy to knock the WRG3, and like any tire company would be, Nokian was not happy to hear that I did not consider the WRG3 an improvement. Consequently, Nokian has asked me to post their opinion in rebuttal, which I am happy to do. Here's what they had to say:
"Thanks for the review. We have spoken with the engineers in Finland and despite your feelings to the contrary, the WRG3 is indeed an improvement over WRG2.
Using the performance of WRG2 as a baseline of 100, we can compare the performance of the WRG3 on 6 key attributes.
In the attached chart you can see the results and in fact ice grip on the WRG3 (orange line) has improved over the WRG2 (blue line).
By having you start the testing day driving all-wheel drive Audi RS4s with studded Hakkapeliitta 7s, then all-wheel drive Audi RS5s with Hakkapeliitta R2s your grip standards were set very high. When you moved from these cars to a front wheel drive Audi wagon with the WRG3s, you were bound to find their ice grip inferior to your expectations.
It would have been better for us to have you test a WRG2 equipped car followed immediately by a WRG3 equipped car. Only in this way could you have compared the two and seen the true difference.
We can state unequivocally that the WRG3 is a better performer than WRG2 on all of our key testing attributes. And as a winter tire with a severe service emblem it continues to perform better in cold weather conditions than any all season tire on the market.
If a consumer likes the performance of their WRG2s, they will be really happy with the new WRG3."
I personally disagree with the contention that driving on the Hakka R2 first set my expectations too high for the WRG3's. I have driven on WRG2's for several years, and on various forms of Hakka snow tires for more than a decade. I believe that I consciously took into account that the WRG3's would not and do not have a grip equal to dedicated snow tires. However, I am willing to admit that the all-wheel drive versus front-wheel drive issue may have played a role, and I completely agree that testing the WRG3's against WRG2's - or indeed any vaguely comparable set of winter-biased all-season tires - may have made for an easier comparison.
In fact I tried to work out with Nokian a way in which I could directly compare the G2's to the G3's in Vermont last month, but by that time winter in the Northeast had ended for good. I have agreed to review the tires again next fall when we can get some snow on the ground, and put them through a wider variety of weather and driving conditions. I am open to the possibility of being wrong; I work hard not to become married to my own opinions.